Goodbye art postcards

If you haven't been receiving art postcards showcasing upcoming exhibits lately, it's not because you've been dumped off your favorite gallery's mailing list.

In these uncertain economic times, some Ashland galleries are scaling back on their postcard mailings, and some have scrapped the expensive postcards altogether.

Hanson Howard Gallery at 82 N. Main St. had a mailing list of about 900 people. It cost between $400 to $650 to send out postcards each month announcing new shows, according to gallery co-owner Barbara Tupper.

"While we know our customers like receiving the cards, it just became too expensive (especially at this time) to continue doing them," she said in an e-mail. "We are giving our artists the option of sending a postcard if they are willing to pay for it."

Hanson Howard is switching to e-mail notices about upcoming shows, although Tupper and fellow co-owner Judy Howard are still gathering their customers' e-mail addresses. For the April show, they sent out an e-mail featuring colorful images of the watercolor paintings of Judy Morris.

John Davis, owner of Davis and Cline Gallery at 525 A St., said sales are wildly unpredictable this year. He said he's cut back on postcard mailings.

"We're at least cutting them in half and trying to do e-mails. It's very expensive. I've never seen it result in a lot. It's just a huge expense," Davis said. "More and more people are communicating by e-mail anyway. We get good responses from e-mails."

He estimated the cost each month to design, print and mail the art postcards at $400 to $500. Over the course of a year, the postcard mailings added up to a cost of about $5,000.

Visitors to the gallery have commented about the drop-off in postcards.

"They really miss the postcards," Davis said. "They'll say, 'We didn't receive a mailing.'"

The gallery is still printing up enough postcards to give out at the gallery when an exhibit is up. Davis also sends out small mailings to collectors who have specific interests.

It's no surprise that the hundreds of people on gallery mailing lists miss their art postcards. All around Ashland, people tack up the postcards in their offices, cubicles and on home bulletin boards. Artists put their own postcards and those of other artists up in their studios for inspiration.

I have a collection of dozens myself, with one from Davis and Cline, another from Hanson Howard and a third from The Living Gallery at 20 S. First St. on the bulletin board above my desk right now.

Although nothing can replace a physical postcard, most art galleries are doing more with their Web sites to let art enthusiasts learn about upcoming shows. Most gallery Web sites allow you to view images of artists' work and check out the year's schedule of shows.

Hanson Howard is even offering videos about exhibits. Go to to watch Howard talk about this month's show. The camera pans over paintings as she explains how Morris' watercolors were inspired by trips to countries like Japan, Mexico and Italy.

Although art postcards are going the way of, well, postcards and snail mail letters, their purpose always was to entice people to get out and visit the galleries. Whether postcard, e-mail or Web site video, nothing beats actually viewing a sculpture from all angles or seeing the texture and colors of a painting in person.

If you need any extra incentive to get out, don't forget that "A Taste of Ashland" is coming next weekend on April 24, 25 and 26. You can visit galleries, drink wine and sample food from restaurant and specialty food producers from Ashland and the rest of the Rogue Valley. Some words of advice — wear comfortable walking shoes and come hungry.

For more information, visit

To see a photo gallery of art postcards, visit

Staff writer Vickie Aldous and correspondent Angela Howe-Decker alternate authoring this column.

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